Going through the newspapers in recent weeks, where pages were full of heinous crimes involving children and women across the world, it may seem for once that humanity has sunk to a new low and our society has gone down in dungeons where only darkness and evil prevails. If you really probe deeper, darkness has no existence of itself, it is just absence of light. Just as darkness, even evil has no existence of its own, it is only absence of goodness.
I went back to Bhagvad to see how Sri Krishna describes evil. I found my answer in chapter 14 where Sri Krishna describes evil as “tamas” with following symptoms:
अप्रकाशोऽप्रवृत्तिश्च प्रमादो मोह एव च |
तमस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे कुरुनन्दन || 14.13||
Darkness, inertia, negligence, and delusion—these are the dominant signs of the mode of ignorance.
All of the above symptoms of evil (“tamas”) are actually absence of direction (light), right action, fulfillment and knowledge.
While the above negative news were making it to the headlines, I also found one small news article in middle pages on Dr. T. K. Lahiri. I found an answer in his story. Dr. Lahiri is an Indian cardiothoracic surgeon and retired medical academic from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi. His story is really inspiring. Born in Kolkata (India), he completed FRCS in Cardiac surgery in 1969 and MCh in thoracic surgery in 1972 from England. He worked in BHU since then and held posts of professor and head of the department of cardiothoracic surgery. Dr. Lahiri retired from BHU in 2003.
(Dr. Lahiri’s image courtesy Dainik Bhaskar)
At the time of retirement, he had various offers from foreign medical institutes and hospitals. He could have made millions during his career and even after retirement however Dr. Lahiri continued as professor emeritus at BHU. Not only this, he donated his entire retirement benefits for treatment of patients with cardiac issues. Out of his monthly pension, he only spends money on his food and basic sustenance and donates the balance for treatment of the poor.
Despite of his retirement in 2003, Dr. Lahiri still continues to visit BHU medical college for treatment of patients. He also performs free surgeries for people who cannot afford expensive treatment in private hospitals. For his exemplary services, Dr. Lahiri was conferred with “Padma Shri” – one of the highest civilian awards by Indian Sate.
People like Dr. Lahiri has been described by Shri Krishna as perfect Yogi. He states:
आत्मौपम्येन सर्वत्र समं पश्यति योऽर्जुन |
सुखं वा यदि वा दु:खं स योगी परमो मत: || 6.32||
The best yogi is one who feels the needs of others, their sorrows, their joys, as though these were his own.
Reading both stories in newspapers on same day made me realize that:
- Our society has definitely not fallen to lows as we think. Somehow the press wants us to believe so by glorifying the bad and evil and understating the good.
- Against every evil person, we have people like Dr. Lahiri spreading light and keeping humanity intact.
- In the end our world is sustaining since its creation because the power that created us knows how to keep an upper hand of goodness by curtailing the evil.
- The law of karma operates for all irrespective whether you do good or evil. Eventually it boomerangs back in some form or the other.
Frankly, it is in our hands to choose our sides. Even for people residing in darkness, inside and outside, we should try to become the beacon of light and hope. As Krishna states:
न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् |
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्त: समाचरन् || 3.26||
The wise should not create discord in the intellects of ignorant people, who are attached to selfish actions, by inducing them to stop work. Rather, by performing their duties in an enlightened manner, they should inspire the ignorant also to do their rightful duties.
Besides imprisonment, the criminals should be made to work with people like Dr. Lahiri to bring light and dispel darkness in their lives. Only by changing heart of such people we can dispel more darkness and make our society better.